When the Chicago Blackhawks skated off the ice with their third Stanley Cup in six years back in June, it seemed unthinkable that Patrick Kane's name would come up in trade speculation ahead of training camp.
Yet, amid an ongoing police investigation revolving around an alleged sexual assault, and even as an eight-year, $84-million contract extension gets set to kick in, as many as five teams have reportedly contacted the Blackhawks about the team's willingness to cut ties with the franchise forward.
If the Blackhawks have indeed run out of patience with Kane, whose off-ice issues are well-documented and perhaps not fully buried in the past, teams appear willing to explore a deal, regardless of the optics. Here's a look at three possible landing spots, should Chicago choose to go this route, and provided Kane's hockey career is able to pick up where it left off.
First, let's assume there's no way Stan Bowman sends Kane to another Western Conference team.
With that established, it seems logical to assume that one Eastern Conference general manager that could make a pitch is Dale Tallon of the Panthers, who selected Kane with the first overall pick at the 2007 NHL Draft.
Bumped from the Blackhawks GM post after a paperwork mishap involving the club's restricted free agents in 2009, Tallon assumed the Panthers job in May of 2010, just before Kane and the Blackhawks won their first Cup.
After a few years of serious building, Tallon's Panthers are a team on the rise, and, with almost $13 million in available cap space and a plethora of young talent, possess the wherewithal to reunite the GM with his former draft prize in South Florida.
The Islanders are a team on the verge of big things, and Snow could look to make a huge splash to ensure a memorable first season in Brooklyn.
Snow has an impressive list of prospects in his system - namely Mathew Barzal, Michel Dal Colle, Josh Ho-Sang, among others - and the Islanders possess a shade over $9 million in available cap space with a roster that racked up 101 points last season.
It helps that John Tavares is under contract for three more seasons on a ridiculously team-friendly $5.5-million cap hit. Adding Kane on his wing could drastically shift the balance of power out East.
As it stands, first-year GM Ray Shero has quite a mess on his hands, and the Devils appear in line to be in the running for the first overall pick at the 2016 draft.
The addition of Kane would give the Devils the kind of dynamic forward it has lacked since Ilya Kovalchuk's retirement and subsequent KHL defection.
This would make sense for a couple of reasons. The Devils currently boast one of the league's top goaltenders in Cory Schneider, and employing his services to backstop a rebuilding squad would be a massive waste of talent.
With one of the NHL's lowest payrolls ($14 million in available cap space) and a decent, young defensive corps, Kane would provide Shero with a franchise forward to build around - a familiar process from his days with the Pittsburgh Penguins - while directing the franchise away from the basement and back into hockey relevance.
(Salary cap information courtesy War On ice)